Europe’s Fearfully High Youth Unemployment
New statistics show a worsening youth unemployment crisis in Europe. How might this play into end-time Bible prophecy?
The uneven fallout of continuing European economic crises has affected the countries of southern Europe—and especially their youth—most dramatically. Things were bad enough last September (see “Youth Unemployment Crisis”), but they have gotten worse.
“Unemployment in the 17 countries using the euro hit 12.1% in March, up from February’s 12%, according to official figures from Eurostat. …
“Greece and Spain recorded the highest unemployment rates in the eurozone, at 27.2% and 26.7% respectively, while Austria, at 4.7%, and Germany, at 5.4%, had the lowest rates.
“Youth employment, defined as those under 25, hit 3.6 million in the eurozone. In Greece, 59.1% of under-25s were unemployed as of the end of January, while in Spain, 55.9% were unemployed.”
Portugal and Italy also have youth unemployment rates above 38 percent, according to Eurostat.
High unemployment helped the Nazis
Various experts have seen shades of the 1930s in some of these grim statistics.
The New York Times reported May 13:
“There is little doubt that youth unemployment is a grave problem in Europe, a result not only of weak economic growth but also of inflexible labor regulations that make it hard for newcomers to break into the work force. ‘If people don’t work for several years after graduation it affects their whole lives,’ said Zsolt Darvas, a research fellow at Bruegel, a research organization in Brussels. …
“Youth unemployment is much lower in Germany and Austria, in both cases 7.6 percent, though still substantially higher than the overall jobless rates. The relatively low rates of youth joblessness reflect those countries’ stronger economies, as well as a long-established apprenticeship system that combines secondary school classroom education with on-the-job training at private companies. There is talk of exporting the apprenticeship systems to other countries.
“But leaders in Germany and Austria are also acutely sensitive to the dangers to society posed by mass unemployment, which was a major factor in the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s.”
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis are primarily remembered for leading the world into World War II and the Holocaust, but we should not forget that Hitler and the Nazis came to power not emphasizing war and genocide, but promising to revitalize Germany’s economy by providing jobs.
New Deal for Europe?
The parallels to the 1930s extend to the types of solutions that are being proposed.
Bloomberg reported May 13:
“Germany and France will announce joint proposals this month to address Europe’s soaring youth unemployment, the Labor Ministry in Berlin said, confirming a newspaper report of a planned ‘New Deal for Europe.’
“The blueprint will be unveiled in Paris on May 28 and will enroll the European Investment Bank to unlock billions of euros in loans to companies that create jobs for young people, the Rheinische Post reported today. The proposals are part of a joint initiative termed a ‘New Deal for Europe’ that echoes former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s drive to cut U.S. unemployment in the 1930s, the newspaper said. …
“Chancellor Angela Merkel sees youth unemployment as possibly the most serious challenge facing Europe at this time, Steffen Seibert, the chief government spokesman, said today at a press conference in Berlin. Germany is ‘obliged’ to impart its ‘expertise’ in curbing youth employment, including promoting the country’s ‘dual apprenticeship’ system of training that brings together job experience with college-based training, he said. ‘At the end of the day, the initiatives have to be based on a common EU approach.’”
What the Bible predicts for end-time Europe
Though the economic picture for Europe is grim at the moment, Europe has a history of sharp economic upturns. As previously mentioned, Hitler rebuilt the German economy from depression and hyperinflation to growth and stability (only to destroy it again through his militaristic actions that led to Germany’s defeat in World War II).
After World War II, the European economy was gutted due to the destruction of war. But within 20 years, West Germany had experienced an economic resurgence often called the German “economic miracle.”
The Bible reveals that another “miracle” will restore Europe to global political and economic dominance—and all indications are that Germany will once again be at the heart of this resurgence.
The Bible foretells that 10 end-time leaders will throw their support behind a revival of the European dream—a powerful and prosperous European empire (Revelation 17:12-13). The Bible also shows that this superpower will be short-lived and partly strong and partly weak (Daniel 2:41-43)—perhaps mirroring the current strengths and weaknesses seen in the European economy.
What will lead up to this final revival of the Roman Empire? Will high youth unemployment cause unrest that will bring a populist and passionate government to the fore? Or will continued efforts to strengthen the eurozone lead to a realignment and the kind of stability and full employment promised during Hitler’s rise to power?
Whatever happens in the near term, the end result is clear in Scripture. Human governments can never permanently fulfill the promises they make. Human efforts to provide prosperity, full employment and security always fail, as the end-time system will fail dramatically (Revelation 18).
For more about what is prophesied for Europe, see “The Future of Europe.” For more about the time of peace and prosperity that will come when Christ returns, see the section on “The Kingdom of God: The Best News You Could Hear!”